Foz do Rio Sousa.jpg

Tragic Sunday: three die in two separate drowning incidents

Three men aged between 18 and 32 died on Sunday, July 13 in two separate river drowning incidents in Portugal.
The first incident involved one death in the mouth of the River Sousa in Gondomar (Porto district) at around 3.20pm. Igor França, 18, was swimming with his cousin and a friend in the local river when he started struggling to stay afloat. He screamed for help and his friends tried to get to him, but they also struggled to swim and Igor disappeared from view.
His body was found later by rescue teams while his friends were taken to Santo António Hospital in Porto and are reported to be recovering well.
This area is very popular with bathers during the summer but it has no lifeguard.
An inconsolable Isabel Cruz, Igor’s girlfriend, told Correio da Manhã newspaper that despite the two boys’ attempts to get to her boyfriend, they also struggled and “ended up swallowing a lot of water”. Family members, who were in the area at the time of the accident, had to be assisted by psychologists.
The other drownings took place later than afternoon at around 5.30pm and involved two Angolan students, aged 26 and 32, who were swimming in a dam in Courela da Ponte Velha, near Lavre (Montemor-o-Novo).
The two men were part of a group of 40 people from Barreiro attending a spiritual retreat in the small town of Courela da Ponte Velha.
Some members of the group had decided to swim in the local dam, but one of them felt unwell. When a colleague tried to reach him, both struggled in the water and ended up drowning. Their bodies were later found by rescue divers.
No other cases of drowning have been reported in either locations, but Nuno Leitão from the maritime rescue institute, Instituto de Socorro a Náufragos (ISN), believes the reason is because there is not an entity to record incidents in river bathing areas.
The spokesman from the ISN, whose jurisdiction covers only maritime zones, recommends swimming only in bathing areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
Leitão warns that these river zones “are very dangerous for swimming. These are not river beaches and present hazards to swimmers, such as swamps, strong currents and sinkholes.”